It's probably been 20 years since I read Tom Robbins' Still Life With Woodpecker, however I often think about the line "There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who believe there are two kinds of people in this world and those who are smart enough to know better." Occasionally, when I start packing up a week's worth of bike and travel gear a modified version of this sentiment comes to mind—”There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who travel with quality luggage, and those who wish they had.”
Not every jaunt requires my massive wheeled gear bag with separate compartments for helmets, shoes and filthy gear. Lately, I've been using the Thule Chasm duffel bag for everything from nearby rides to international trips. Offered in 40-, 70-, 90- and 130-liter capacities, the Chasm is also available in four attention-grabbing colorways. The 90L version ($144) shown here is not specifically designed for cycling, but with a very large opening, removable backpack straps, and weather-resistant construction, it's capable of reliably storing and organizing heaps of gear. If visualizing 90 liters of storage doesn't give a clear picture of its capacity, as a seasoned traveler, my quick eyeball calculation estimates it's capable of transporting 30 to 35 full-size hotel towels (hypothetically, of course).The Chasm's rugged construction features waterproof tarpaulin fabric, which has withstood being tossed in muddy truck beds, accidentally left outside in the rain, and hot-potatoed among airline baggage handlers. The lockable, zippered side pockets have plenty of storage for must-have tools or small accessories and components, while the bottom of the bag is also padded to further soften baggage-handling bobbles. The large main compartment can easily manage a couple pairs of shoes, a hydration pack, full-face helmet, body armor, plus a few sets of casual clothes and riding gear. A variety of zippered, internal mesh pockets provide places to stash items you wish access quickly, or to keep separate from your hotel towels–er, I mean, the bag's other contents.
Along with the Chasm's quality construction and cavernous storage, one of the more unique features is how it can also be worn as a backpack. When hustling several pieces of luggage and a bike box through an airport, I found the option of tossing the Chasm on my back rather handy, and it came with the bonus of making me feel like Luke shuffling Yoda through the swamps of Dagobah. Last but not least, in backpack mode the external compression straps help keep well-organized items in place, and hotel towels neatly rolled.